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  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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  • Featurette
Polygram/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 115 mins . R . PAL


We are the mods! We are the mods! We are, we are, we are the mods!

Perhaps never completely certain as to whether the abbreviation 'prog' should have been permanently sticky-taped in front of the 'rock' in their description as a band, as well as delivering some classic short, sharp shock snatches of pure early agit-pop, The Who were also responsible for their fair share of 'concept' records. 1979's film version of Quadrophenia is only loosely based on their earlier album of the same name, and presents a snapshot of the mid-'60s British youth cults of 'mods' and 'rockers'. The former had their slick suits, scooters and early Britpop, the latter leather jackets, motorbikes and US rock'n'roll. Needless to say the two factions didn’t mix particularly well…

Centring on Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels, who some will recognise as the voice that wasn't Damon Albarn on Blur's 1994 redefinition of Britpop, Parklife), we are led into the warts-and-all world of the mods, and their own spin on the standard teenage desire of nonconformity. It's a life of parties, pills, posing, preening, potty mouths, parkas, suits, shagging, vomit and violence - plus, of course, the aforementioned Lambrettas and Vespas, where you work simply to afford your next score of 'blues'. Come the Bank Holiday weekend and they're leaving London for the holiday resort of Brighton, up for a good party, and a vicious battle with their mortal enemies (the rockers, remember?) as well as the rozzers.

There are some stunningly real performances to witness here, most notably from Daniels (who carries the bulk of the film's weight squarely on his shoulders), but also from supporting cast such as Leslie Ash as the rather bimbo-esque Steph, Sting (you know, the guy who was great when coupled with Stewart and Andy in The Police, but had a rather patchy, watered-down solo music career afterwards?) as the mysterious Ace Face and even Toyah Wilcox (who went on to a brief early '80s pop career hurling boxes of washing powder about in videos, and I do believe is now a Teletubby) as the urchin-like 'Monkey'.

An often disturbingly violent, yet by all accounts from those who were around at the time incredibly accurate, portrayal of teenage angst and the powers of peer group pressure, Quadrophenia is certainly not a film that everybody will enjoy. The sort of flick that garners descriptions including words such as 'zeitgeist' and 'influential' (you can see a common thread in much later efforts such as the exceptionally grim Trainspotting just for starters), whilst a gritty social snapshot of rebellion that could easily be transposed to most any generation with simply a few tweaks in the music and fashions departments, this is most definitely NOT a film to view when you've had an absolute gutful and are at the end of your tether - as it may just push you over the edge...


Let's tackle the video first shall we? Presented in full frame, when the film was actually made in 1.85:1, really the only things remotely sharp here are the suits. If you're after an example of how utterly woeful a transfer can look then here's the ticket - it's muddy and indistinct throughout, the colours are incredibly muted and dull (some may argue this suits London's climate, however…), the picture fights an almost losing battle against grain for the film's duration, and the whole thing is riddled with massive flecks, scratches and other imperfections - even the reel change blobs appear in the top right corner (well, half of them seeing as the picture has been savagely cropped).

Surely the audio must fare better, right? Nuh-uh. Supposedly in Dolby Stereo, the mix sounds remarkably monaural, and whilst dialogue is reasonably well discernable throughout (depending upon your ability to understand the accents), it truly redefines the word 'average', especially in light of the remarkably prevalent rumbling sound that remains throughout almost the entire film. Audio synch is certainly not fabulous, however at least the soundtrack makes up for many, many things just a little, although sonically it's more dull and lifeless than a party held by a group of accountants. Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle of The Who take claim for musical direction, and many brilliant '60s tracks are included, from such talents as The Merseybeats, Manfred Mann, The Chiffons, The Ronettes, The Supremes, The Crystals, Marvin Gaye, Booker T and the MGs to the typically ubiquitous Who themselves (including, of course, their classic My Generation).

Extras? Well, the static and silent, nicely themed menu leads to a just-over seven-minute long collage, featuring scenes from the film coupled with black and white stills (including some from deleted scenes) plus the odd written quote from some involved with the film, all soundtracked by a medley of songs by The Who. And that's it.

Quadrophenia has been released in the US in the correct ratio of 1.85:1 with newly remastered vision, along with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack and a plethora of extras including a commentary from the director Franc Roddam, a trivia subtitle track, a visual trip from London to Brighton, video interviews, featurettes and the original trailer - and we get this pile of shite! Even if you're a rabid fan of the film, I implore you to avoid this utter mess - this is one case where it's easily worth the extra money to import the R1 version, assuming your player is multi-regioned. A quintessentially English film and it took the Yanks to do it right on DVD - go figure.

How else can I put this? Basically who (no pun intended) ever was responsible for this utterly appalling DVD presentation deserves a right good kicking.

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  •   And I quote...
    "An utterly appalling DVD presentation - the only things even remotely sharp here are the suits..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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